Tag Archives: Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity:Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving-its a wrap

Time to bring this series to an end.  To save you a lot of scrolling here’s a list of Charities, Non-profits, and other organizations that we here at Blogging. LA believe in enough to spend time helping them or donating directly to them.    Each post has ways that you can help them out if you so desire.

If you have one that you feel passionate about drop me a note at frazgo(at)mail(dot)com and I will post it for you.

Image by IronRodArt from flickr used via creative commons licence.

Sweet Charity: Blogging LA’s Guide to Giving – The Library Foundation of Los Angeles

“I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
– Isaac Asimov, in his book, “I. Asimov: A Memoir”

Sometimes when I get really angry at people for being whatever negative adjective they are being at the time, generally, I remember the library.  The library, to me, is the epitome of human goodness – there’s just so much trust required in order to make the whole system work.  I check out a book, and you trust me to return it in a timely(ish) manner so that you can read it later, too.   I trust you to not tear out pages from old issues of Real Simple (because you can check out the back issues of magazines at the Los Angeles Public Library, something I just discovered, to my amazement) so that I too can learn all about repurposing dental floss into a cheese slicer.  You trust me not to spill (too much) oil or flour on Baking: From My Home to Yours, a gorgeous book by Dorie Greenspan (CIRC 641.71 G8147-1) while I decide whether I would reference this enough to justify its purchase.  I do appreciate your marginal notes, though.  I trust you to not mark up Louise Erdrich’s fantastic Shadow Tag (FIC ERD), because she writes, extremely well, about the critical importance of space and privacy even within the confines of an intimate relationship, thoughts that more than one person I know, myself included, wanted to highlight and send to our ex’es.

And then there is the trust we have in our local governments to use our tax dollars and funding to support this resource.  One of the funniest/saddest things that happened all year happened during the horrific heat wave that saw downtown roasting at somewhere between 105 and 115 degrees.  The city’s Emergency Management Department urged the public to seek out cooling centers to be safe.  The city also suggested that they seek refuge at one of the LA Public Library’s branches. It was a very good suggestion, except for one thing: on the day the suggestion was made – a Monday that saw downtown LA registering a record-shattering 113 degrees, the hottest day in September since 1877 – all of the city’s libraries were closed.  The Central Library and its 72 branches were closed pursuant to the City Council’s decision earlier in the year to close the library on Sundays and Mondays.  To save money.  Or something. Currently, the library’s homepage is very, very excited to announce that its branches, including the Central Library, will be open on two Mondays this month.  That is sad.

Cutting city investment in an institution that does all it can to invest, educate, and empower its citizens is one of the meanest and most counter-intuitive things you can do.  Take your we-are-in-a-recession argument and shove it back where it came from: the recession is exactly the reason why cities in general should commit tenaciously to their libraries, schools, and other sources of public education.  Tellingly, for all the cuts made this year with surgical imprecision, the police department’s budget was not similarly manhandled.  I suppose this makes sense: if people aren’t going to the library, surely they’re committing crimes on the streets.  On the bright side, we haven’t privatized our libraryyet.

’Tis the season, then, to give a little to our library system.  There are a few ways to give: there are, for example, a number of Friends of the Library groups that support specific branch libraries.  The Library Foundation of Los Angeles (LFLA) is the umbrella non-profit support organization for the LAPL.  Donations to LFLA benefit the Central Library and its 72 branches; they also support the library’s amazing ALOUD series – the same series that delivered Jonathan Gold to the foodies, John Waters to the quirkies, and Natalie Merchant to the children of the ’90s.  Your donations also fund amazing exhibits like “Forty Years of Sesame Street Illustration.”

So, this is me, trusting you, again.  Thanks for returning that book.   And thanks for investing in the library.

Beautiful photo of a wedding reception at the Central Library courtesy bhampton1963 via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

This post is part of our Sweet Charity: Blogging LA’s Guide to Giving series, just in time for the holidays.

Sweet Charity: Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving – the LA Conservancy

In 1978, downtown’s iconic Central Library was at risk of being demolished,which blows my mind a little bit: it’s hard to imagine downtown without it. In response to the library’s impending destruction, a group of citizens began public debate and negotiations with city council that eventually led to the library’s preservation and restoration, a project that took fifteen years, ending with the library’s grand re-opening in 1993. The group that made the restoration work possible was the LA Conservancy, who, since their founding in 1978, have continued to advocate and educate in order to keep LA’s history accessible.

Bob's Big Boy in Downey - winner of the LA Conservancy's 2010 President's Award for Preservation

The Conservancy does huge amounts of programming and advocacy in and around the city. They offer walking tours of downtown architechture; they run the ever-popular Last Remaining Seats film series, that brings audiences into rarely-open historic theatres; they work with specific neighborhoods to have areas designated local, state, and national historic districts; and actively work to save buildings of historical or cultural interest that are in danger of demolition. While the preservation buildings may not, at first glance, seem to a terribly pressing social concern, it’s important to remember that the spaces in which people live and work and play can be vital sites of community and cultural identity, and that with the loss of culturally, socially, and historically important spaces, we risk losing parts of the story of this remarkable city. It’s one thing to preserve history in photographs and books, but actually being able to visit the places where things happened can, I think, really keep it vital and alive.

So that’s why I think you should give to the LA Conservancy. They’re encouraging folks to make holiday donations to their Presevation Advocacy Fund. The money donated to this fund supports the Conservancy’s efforts to advocate for the preservation of historic buildings by taking on developers and governments, by working with local historical societies and neighborhood associations, and by providing educational initiatives that teach the public about LA history. You can also become a member of the Conservancy (or maybe buy a gift membership for that special someone!), giving you access to special events, or you can volunteer some time – the Conservancy needs help with everything from advocacy to photography.

This post is part of Sweet Charity:  Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving

Bob’s Big Boy picture courtesy of Andy Perkins of Flickr.

Sweet Charity: Blogging.LA’s Guide To Giving – Kiva.org

I hope Oprah doesn’t have a problem with me riding her coattails on this, but since I’ve been a Kiva fan and lender since long before 2010, perhaps it’s Big O who is tagging along with me.

Kiva is one of my favorite organizations helping to alleviate poverty around the world. Kiva is not a typical charity, wherein you might make a donation which is then used to help those in need. Kiva is a micro-lending organization which facilitates the funding of small loans (average loan is $381) for impoverished entrepreneurs. Those small loans help people build their businesses, and work to lift themselves out of poverty. Like a standard loan, it is expected that the money will be paid back.

While the average loan is a few hundred dollars, that is distributed across many lenders. The typical lender contribution to any one loan is only $25. For only $25, you can help change a life. Continue reading below where I’ll tell you how you can help just as much for even less of your own cold, hard cash.

One of the things I like best about Kiva is the feeling of partnership. Unlike typical charities where you donate and the money gets distributed to…someone, with Kiva you get to decide exactly where your money goes. When you go to Kiva’s website, you can see all of the different loans that are funding now and learn about the entrepreneurs before you choose to lend to them. You’ll see pictures, learn about their business, read a bit of their personal story. You can choose what country, what type of business, and specifically which individual you want to lend to.

Since 2005, Kiva has loaned nearly $180 million through Kiva Field Partners (local microfinance partners) in 57 countries to over 470,000 entrepreneurs. Here’s the best part: all of those impoverished entrepreneurs  get the benefit of the loans, then pay the money back. Kiva’s current loan repayment rate is 98.91%. That means a default rate of less than 1.1%! That repaid money can then be loaned out again and again, and the same small amount of your money helps multiple entrepreneurs numerous times.

Right now Groupon is offering $25 Kiva loan credits for only $15. For less than the cost of a night at the movies (for one, no date,) you can help change a person’s life for the better. Here’s how:

  • First, if you’re not already a Groupon member, join here. Full disclosure: If you join through that referral link, Groupon will give me a kickback, which I will in turn use to make more Kiva loans. Everybody wins, particularly another poor cobbler in Uruguay.
  • Buy a $25 Kiva credit for only $15 through Groupon here. Don’t wait; this is a limited time/limited availability offer.
  • Register with Kiva here. Then choose the loan you want to fund here.
  • As the loan is repaid you’ll get regular updates as to its status. When the first $15 (your initial investment) is repaid, it’s yours. You can either withdraw or re-loan it, which is what I do. The $10 that Groupon kicks in will be donated to Kiva when the initial loan is repaid, helping to cover Kiva’s 501(c)(3) non-profit operating costs.

Easy. Only a couple of steps. It might take you 10 minutes and minimal financial investment, for which you will have direct positive impact on a specific individual’s life.

In this season of giving, here is a big opportunity for a small contribution that will continue to give throughout the year, again and again.

Sweet Charity: Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving – Esperanza Community Housing

(This post is part of Sweet Charity:  Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving, our guide to alternative places to spend your dollars and make a difference this holiday season!)

Esperanza Community Housing serves the families that live in and around the Figueroa corridor. The organization’s original focus was on housing, and they’ve built and maintained sustainable and affordable housing for folks with low incomes. But they’ve expanded their mandate to include all kinds of things that go beyond just housing and show a real dedication to developing a self-sustaining, vital community. They provide health-related education and services in English and Spanish, they run arts and science workshops for kids and families. They have an extensive education program, and train community leaders to become “health promoters,” giving them the knowledge and resources to work for health and social justice issues on a grassroots level.

Esperanza Community Housing also operates Mercado La Paloma, an amazing marketplace and community space located at 3655 South Grand Avenue. The Mercado is full of small, independently owned, community-based businesses, all of which were founded with the assistance of Esperanza Community Housing, who provided business training and startup resources, with the intent of creating jobs and business ownership opportunities in the community. The shops in the Mercado include small restaurants and shops, selling everything from arts and crafts to computer supplies. I found out about it when I met some friends for dinner at Mo-Chica, which is an amazing Peruvian restaurant located in the Mercado. (You should go, and try the AMAZING ceviche!!) Mercado La Paloma also houses art exhibits, hosts classes on topics ranging from health and nutrition to computer how-to, has a kids’ reading nook, and plays host to events like film screenings and festivals. All in all, it’s an amazing, welcoming gathering space that provides much-needed community resources.

Want to help Esperanza Community Housing continue to provide affordable housing and resources? They welcome tax-dedutible donations on their website. And you can also support the small businesses in the Mercado by doing some of your Christmas shopping there! A good time to visit might be tomorrow, December 17th, between 5:00 and 9:00pm, when the Mercado will be hosting a holiday celebration, with live music, dancing, and art workshops.

Esperanza Community Housing and Mercado La Paloma are located at 3655 South Grand Ave.  Directions are available here.

Photo of the Mercado La Paloma mural from lili.chen on flickr.

Sweet Charity:Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving – The Foothill Unity Center

I wrote about Joan Whitenack a few weeks ago who heads the Foothill Unity Center for our nice list. Now on to the Foothill Unity Center itself.

The center takes care of folks in the foothill communities of the San Gabriel Valley. Aside from feeding and clothing those families in immediate distress, they also provide other service such as dentist check ups and free haircuts by working with other groups in the SGV.  Events such as the Thanksgiving and Holiday Distribution Parties as well as the Back to School reach into the thousands the number of families they help.

Aside from donations of food, cash and other emergency type supplies they are in need of labor to help in the Monrovia and Pasadena Centers.  That would include not only sorting donations as they arrive, but labor in the warehouses to package the stuff for distribution to those in need. Even those with social working talents are needed to help with preparing files to track what help is best needed for their clients to ensure they get it.

All year long they are in need of food donations, toiletries, packing material and stuff for distribution to their clients. They need cash too to help fund their activities such as transportation and clothing vouchers. This time of year they need help with their Holiday Distribution Event. This year it is to be held on December 19 and 20 at the Ayers Hall in the LA Arboretum with the preparations for the event taking place on the 18th. Volunteers are needed prior to the event to help with wrapping, sorting and decorating. On the days of the event they need adult volunteers to help with the distribution. Finally they need help with tear down on the 21st. For more information on the specifics of where they need help for this event visit their web site HERE.

Help them fulfill their mission statement however you can.

Foothill Unity Center, Inc. envisions a community where. . .

All have their basic needs met, including the need to give
All get the necessary support to become self-sufficient
All are treated with love and dignity … all the time

We provide critical support, in the form of food, clothing, motel vouchers, and referrals/advocacy to our neighbors in crisis. As the need for food brings people to us, we listen to their problems and help them find solutions. We work with other agencies to provide long-term shelter, counseling, medical, educational, employment and spiritual assistance depending on the person’s needs.

In this way, Foothill Unity Center helps people return self-sufficiency. All services are provided with love and dignity, regardless of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, physical or emotional disabilities or veteran’s status.

If you have someone on your list that has everything, consider making a gift to the Foothill Unity Center in their name this Holiday Season.

For more complete information on the Foothill Unity Center visit their web site.

Monrovia Center: 415 W. Chestnut Ave., Monrovia 91016 Phone: (626) 358-3486 / Fax: (626) 358-8224 Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday.

Pasadena Center: 191 N. Oak Ave., Pasadena 91107 Phone: (626) 584-7420 / Fax: (626) 584-7422 Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday through Friday.